How to Choose the Best Wellies for Gardening
Wellies are such a convenient shoe for the garden, rain or shine. Plus, they’re also incredibly useful for a lot of other situations, from walking the dog to venturing out to the shops on a rainy day.
One of the best things about wellies is how easy they are to throw on over whatever you’re wearing. Whether the sun is beating down, or the rain is falling, they are a comfortable, protective and versatile choice.
If you’re trying to choose the best wellies for gardening, there are a few things to look out for (depending on the job in hand) – including some design features you might not even be aware of! Take a look at the following information to help you make an informed choice:
Choosing the Right Style
When it comes to wellies, there are three main styles to choose from: traditional knee-high wellies, mid-calf length options, and ankle wellies. Ankle wellies are becoming increasingly popular because of how easy they are to get on and off; plus, they also suit different leg sizes/shapes. However, there are cases when knee-high wellies may be more appropriate. Here we’ll take a look at each style in more detail:
- Offer the most protection if you’re going to be using your wellies for dog walks, trips to the beach and trudging through damp fields.
- Good splash protection and will protect your trousers from getting too wet or muddy.
- In the garden, they’ll protect your legs from wet flowers and plants, as well as thorns.
One of the main downsides of knee-high wellies is that they aren’t comfortable for everyone. They aren’t always wide enough for people with bigger calves and can hug the leg too tightly. They can also be hard for people with high arches to get their feet into. If these are problems that you’ve experienced in the past, you may find one of the styles below to be more appropriate.
- Useful for gardening in the summer when knee-high wellies might be too warm.
- A great choice if you normally find that knee-high wellies are too long in the leg.
- Offer a more comfortable fit if knee-high wellies tend to be too tight around the calf.
As you can imagine, mid-calf wellies offer a good middle-ground between knee-high and ankle wellies. They’ll still offer a reasonable amount of protection, and keep some mud and water off clothes; although, on really muddy walks you’ll probably still discover splashes up the back of your legs I’m afraid!
- Easiest to slip on and off. This makes them really useful for gardening, especially if you’re frequently going in and out of the house.
- More comfortable to work in for longer periods as they allow for more movement than longer wellies.
- A great choice for anyone with wider legs.
- In the summer, they’re a cooler choice as well.
Although they’re suitable for getting a bit muddy, they won’t offer much protection if you’re in deep, squishy mud. For this reason, they’re not so great for long walks – particularly if it’s rained recently. I can tell you from first-hand experience that ankle boots aren’t enough to protect feet from the bog-like mud that can appear in UK woodlands over winter!
Buying the Correct Size
As with all shoes, fit varies a lot between wellies. However, as a general rule, you can expect wellies to come up slightly bigger than standard shoes. This means if you buy a size 6 wellie, it may be more like a 6.5. This isn’t always the case, so it can be useful to check the reviews of other customers before making a purchase as these often indicate if the wellies are deemed ‘true to size’ or if it’s recommended to ‘size up’ or ‘size down’.
Another thing to bear in mind is whether the shoes are advertised as being “men’s” or “women’s” shoes. In the UK, shoe sizes are generally unisex, so a women’s UK 7 will also fit a men’s UK 7 (in the US, a women’s size 7 would be different to a men’s size 7).
It can help to check the EU sizing (where a UK 7 would be a size ‘40’, for example), to be sure you’re buying the size you expect.
Although the sizes may be the same between “men’s” and “women’s” shoes in the UK, the way the shoe fits may vary.
Shoes that are aimed towards male customers tend to be wider all the way along the shoe. Shoes aimed at female customers are often wider at the front, near the toes, and narrower at the heel. This difference in design may require that you size up or down when buying wellies.
Remember to factor in what socks and trousers you’ll be wearing underneath the wellies. Many people opt to wear a thick pair of socks underneath. If this is the case, you will want to make sure that the wellies are a little roomy.
Outer and Inner Lining
The outer lining of wellies is usually made from rubber or neoprene.
Rubber is a cheaper material and are therefore great for gardeners on a budget. It’s relatively flexible and extremely waterproof. The downside of rubber wellies is that they aren’t always the most comfortable, and they can be difficult to take on and off. Nevertheless, if you want a more affordable option, you’ll find that a pair of rubber wellies will do an excellent job.
Neoprene wellies are waterproof and offer extra insulation. They are also very flexible, making them a bit more comfortable than rubber wellies. On hot days, neoprene wellies can feel too warm, which is why some people prefer not to wear them in the summer.
Some wellies will also have an inner lining for additional comfort. An inner lining can make the wellies much warmer to wear in winter, especially if it is made from some sort of wool or fleece. However, it is vital that warm linings can be removed – not only so that they can be washed, but so that the boots can be used in summer without being uncomfortably hot.
If the boots have a fleece lining, be aware that this will make them feel smaller.
Gardening Wellies FAQs
How can I clean my wellies?
One of the best things about wellies is that they are exceptionally easy to clean. Most wellies can simply be washed in the sink or using a garden hose.
If the soles become caked in mud, you should remove this to ensure you have adequate grip. It’s best to clean mud from the grooves before it gets compacted and caked in. Tough mud can be scrubbed off using washing up liquid and a sponge, or even an old toothbrush.
If your wellies have a removable inner lining, this should be regularly washed – either by hand or in the washing machine depending on the instructions.
How should I care for my wellies?
Besides cleaning them to get rid of any mud, it’s important to store wellies in a shaded spot so that they don’t have excessive exposure to the sun. For this reason, keeping your wellies in the greenhouse might not be the best idea.
Although rubber (the most common material for wellies) is naturally very tough, it doesn’t do particularly well in sunlight.
Leaving either rubber or neoprene wellies outside will eventually lead to breakdown. The material will disintegrate, meaning your wellies will become weaker, creased and more likely to crack or puncture.
Keeping your wellies inside your home or porch is the best option.
What should I wear for gardening?
When it comes to gardening attire; comfort, warmth and weather resistance are key.
On wet days, the best thing to wear is a pair of waterproof trousers, especially if you’re going to be kneeling down. On hot days, opt for a long-sleeved cotton/linen shirt with sun protection.
Shoes should be grippy, comfortable and offer good protection. If you’re digging, you’ll need a thick sole which will protect the bottom of your foot from the spade. Wellies are a great choice for this.
Safety gear is essential if you’re operating machinery such as chainsaws, strimmers or lawn mowers. Ensure you’ve got adequate head, ear and eye protection.